This past Friday and Saturday we held the “Alpha Weekend Away” (an ironic name, in this case, since we hosted the event at the church and were not “away” at all). This special weekend is usually the high point for an Alpha course. It certainly was for us.
Our weekend was full of fellowshipping, having fun, watching Alpha videos, and discussing the important questions of life from a Biblical perspective. The turnout was great—about 30 people attended. Here are some of the great things that happened:
· Everyone seems to have had fun and to have drawn closer to one another.
· Several of our guests requested prayer for their lives or prayer specifically to receive the Holy Spirit.
· Two people expressed that they were putting their trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.
· A young Christian reported that Alpha has helped him, greatly, to grow in his faith.
· One guest said she plans to visit Bethel and will bring her family.
As leaders we are excited by these results. We will be meeting on Sunday, December 10, to ask, “What next?” So many people have started, or renewed, their journey of faith, that we feel compelled to provide further steps of growth for them. Some leaders believe we should run the Alpha Course again soon, so that the guests who attended can bring their friends.
The Alpha ministry has been made possible by generous contributions of time and talent from many people. Small group members have provided food. Some people have been hosting the Alpha evenings in their homes. Other people have led or assisted at meetings. The World Missions team cooked and provided snacks on the Alpha weekend. Still others have helped with administration or in other supportive ways. Donations from the church made it possible to for us to afford Alpha supplies.
Please give thanks, with us, for all that God has done and for the Bethel members he has worked through to make this program possible! Please pray that, as Alpha leaders, will be able to discern what our next step should be. –Pastor Tom
GOD’S POWER AND THE BANNERMAN PARTNERS
Some months ago, someone proposed a brilliant idea for the Bannerman community: have an after-school program for the elementary children to fill the unproductive and unsupervised hours in their lives when many of their parents are at work.
The idea met with an enthusiastic initial response, but the project floundered when the person spearheading it left town shortly after the first meeting held to discuss it. The next time we met, things were a bit haphazard with everyone looking at one another and asking “Who’s in charge here?” The plan was further threatened when the local elementary school principal, a key advocate for the idea, had to take a leave of absence to care for her ill, aged mother.
At some point the group decided to incorporate all further discussion of this proposal into our regular Bannerman Partners meetings. I chair the Bannerman Partners; so, it was in this way that I found myself chairing, this past Wednesday morning, a meeting whose almost exclusive agenda was to discuss the after-school program. I had been a cheerleader and spectator for this idea. Now I was responsible to see progress made on it.
Several hours before the scheduled Bannerman Partners meeting which I was to chair, I asked our Wednesday morning prayer group to intercede for the proceedings. They prayed earnestly that God would work powerfully and surprise everyone in the room.
When the community leaders met later that morning, things did not start promisingly. I described the helter-skelter nature of the previous, after-school program meeting. I said that some people had taken assignments home from that meeting, but I didn’t know who, since it had not been recorded.
What happened next made it seem like the after-school ship would completely sink. The community league president announced, “I really don’t see how we can proceed on this matter, because the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Edmonton are not represented here, and the lion’s share of our hopes rested with them.”
So we dithered for a while. We went on to what other business there was. Then, to our surprise, a representative of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club walked into the room, late for the meeting. In short order this person announced that her organization had secured funding to run an after-school program from January to June.
At our prayer meeting that morning, we had prayed that God would surprise the Bannerman Partners. He did. While further discussions will need to take place to figure out how to make this program sustainable for years to come, this is a welcome and huge first step.
I am sure that others who attended the Bannerman Partners gathering would simply say that we had a great meeting. I see what happened as a direct answer to prayer. We serve a wonderful God. –Pastor Tom
PUTTING OUR HEADS TOGETHER
Recently I sat down with all of Bethel’s ministry leaders—our children’s ministry leaders our adult ministry leaders, and our leaders for all the ages in between. It was the first such meeting in many years, and it was vital.
First, let me say, what amazing leaders we have! I was humbled by their commitment to Christ, their dedication to their ministries, and their passion to see God touch the lives of others. We can all be very grateful for them!
We took some important steps at the meeting. First, we reminded ourselves that we are aligned around one, all-important mission: “Becoming like Christ and Sharing Him with Others.” Each leader wrote a statement in which they described how their ministry furthers this core mission of our church.
Then, we talked about how we can fulfill this mission as effectively as possible in each of the ministries. We dealt with questions like: How can we invite those who have not come to Christ to know Him in a personal way? How can we reach beyond the people who attend our ministries to their families so that they also have an opportunity to respond to this invitation? How can we make it easy for those who come to Christ to take their next step of faith and even become involved in Bethel? Everyone outlined their own plan, and we agreed to use our ministries to make people aware of other things Bethel Church offers.
We have been privileged to see people come to faith and become involved in Bethel through our ministries. My hope is that we will see more of this in the future. --Pastor Tom
Showing them Jesus
The Spirit of God is leading us as a church deeper into the Scriptures. I want to share the story of two ministries who, independently of each other, came to similar conclusions about teaching the Bible. The first is Dove Taekwondo.
Joanne Luimes is one of the key leaders of the Dove Taekwondo ministry and responsible for teaching the children and adults. In past years Dove has taken a topical approach to teaching, spending time dealing with issues like bullying, video games, bad manners and other topics relevant to their students. When teaching these things they looked to what the Bible had to say about each. Last summer Joanne read a book entitled “Showing them Jesus” by Jack Klumpenhower which emphasized the need to “reveal Jesus” in all the stories of the Bible. Instead of a topical approach this year, Joanne decided to go straight to the Bible, starting at the very beginning in Genesis and moving to Revelation. Today at Dove, the students and teachers are blessed by a systematic study of the whole Bible. They are learning the over-arching story throughout every book, and seeing how Jesus fits in to it all. Each week is filled with a high level of participation and life. One student said to Joanne excitedly: “I’ve never heard the story of God told like that!”
The second ministry I want to highlight is Oasis. Every Wednesday morning, dozens of women come together for small groups and Bible study. Laurie Veenstra faithfully leads a team of women to pull this off week after week. A group of faithful grandmas take care of and teach the kids (a huge blessing!). Laurie and the team came to a similar conviction as Joanne. They wanted to get deeper into the Scriptures and see the Bible as one complete story. Oasis is going through a study called “Seamless” which goes through the whole Bible! They are looking for Jesus in each and every story. Laurie tells me that women are appreciating the emphasis on going deeper.
Part of our church renewal lab process, as well as the REVEAL survey, leadership came the conclusion that we should go deeper in the Bible and “embed the Bible” in all we do as a church. I am happy to say that when we look at the ministries of Bethel, the Spirit is going before us!
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